Of all the elements that a human being needs to reach the state of happiness, freedom must be at the top of the list. However, when shaking the hideous chains off, the has-been “prisoner” of a more powerful opponent might feel completely lost. When the long desired independence is finally granted, the ones who have never been taught to act on their own are most likely to be lost and even frightened.
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The shock that came along with the Partition of India was far too huge to overcome it (Bates), even though the freedom that was eventually granted to the Indian people had been awaited for for decades (Partition of India). By disclosing a personal drama to the audience, Deepa Mehta’s 1947 (Earth) tells a story of a tremendous political change and the following challenge that India had to face in order to survive.
The way in which Mehta manages to intertwine the Indian political and economical situation of the time with the lives of ordinary people is truly incredible. To start with, she managed to place the leading characters, i.e., Shanta and her friends, in a specific microcosm where social and religious differences do not matter.
Lenny, belonging to Parsi family, her ayah Shanta being a member of the Hindu population, and the Muslim suitors of Shanta represent both the chaos in which India at the moment of its partition existed, and the delicate balance that needed to be restored. Thus, Mehta set a contrasting element to the violence and chaos that gripped Indian during its partition process.
Unlike many documentaries, 1947 (Earth) is packed with metaphors. Every single frame leaves an impression and gives a lot of food for thoughts; however, by far the most meaningful scene seems to be the one including Ice Candy Man and Lenny talking about the lions.
It is hard to come up with an accurate metaphor for the conflict that took place between the Muslims and the Hindu in 1940s; however, Mehta manages to nail it down precisely. Comparing the religious conflict and the opponents to a pride of lions, she makes it clear that this pivoting point in Indian history was bound to come eventually: “’Who’s guarding the lions?’ – ‘Nobody.’” (1947 (Earth)).
Finally, the issue of religious tolerance (or its absence, for that matter) should be brought up. By portraying friendship between the representatives of different religions, Mehta makes it clear that religious tolerance is the only approach to tackle the related conflicts. However, a number of states consider the murder of an “infidel” acceptable. Thus, two different religious visions collide. There are different opinions on the given issue.
However, to kill someone in the name of God seems a very disturbing idea. Since God is the Creator, it is only Him to decide who is going to live and who has to die. Therefore, murdering people whose vision does not comply with one’s religious beliefs can be regarded as an attempt to run the world instead of God, which itself is a blasphemy. With that being said, a murder, no matter for what cause it is committed, is always wrong.
Even though the movie does contain a number of inaccuracies, which is rather excusable for a feature film, 1947 (Earth) still manages to capture the story of Partition and disclose its legacies to the audience in a very accurate way.
1947 (Earth). Dir. Deepa Mehta. Perf. Aamir Khan, Mari Sethna and Nandita Das. New Delhi, IN: Cracking the Earth Films Inc., 1999. DVD.
Bates, Cridspin. The Hidden Story of Partition and Its Legacies. 3 Mar. 2011. Web. <http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/modern/partition1947_01.shtml>.
Partition of India. n. d. Web. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Partition_of_India>.